Navigation Links
Opium and marijuana research go underground
Date:10/31/2007

The worlds leading expert on the opium poppy has joined forces with researchers working on another infamous drug-producing plant cannabis in hopes of finding new uses for the much-maligned sources of heroin and marijuana.

Peter Facchini, professor of Biological Sciences and Canada Research Chair in Plant Biotechnology, has received a $650,000 NSERC Strategic Project Grant to create new varieties of opium poppy and cannabis that can be used for medicinal and industrial purposes, but will have no value as illicit drugs. And his work is taking him where few Canadians have gone before: Deep underground into the countrys ultra high-security medicinal marijuana growth facility.

Its certainly unusual for a plant biochemist to work in a copper mine hundreds of metres underground, Facchini said. This is a really great project that involves two of the worlds most important medicinal plants and is clearly unique in the plant biology field.

Facchini and a new team of U of C postdoctoral researchers have teamed up with Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems Inc., the National Research Council Plant Biotechnology Institute, the Alberta Research Council and the University of Saskatchewan to create and study mutant varieties of opium poppy and cannabis in an unused portion of a copper and zinc mine near Flin Flon, Manitoba. Prairie Plant Systems produces medicinal marijuana under contract with Health Canada in this state-of-the-art facility.

Despite awareness of the importance of crop diversification for the long-term success of agriculture in Canada, few plants are cultivated for the production of high-value bioproducts. Opium poppy accumulates the alkaloids morphine, codeine and thebaine, and cannabis produces psychoactive cannabinoids and is used as a source of high-quality fiber and oil. The domestic market for codeine, morphine and oxycodone, which is derived from thebaine, is in excess of $1.6 billion annually, all of which is currently imported. Canada is well-positioned to support the development of new crops cultivated for the production of valuable bioproducts, such as pharmaceuticals and fibers, says Facchini. The research will identify novel genes for use in the metabolic engineering of opium poppy to accumulate high-value pharmaceutical alkaloids and to block cannabinoid production in cannabis. The latter will allow for a safe, legal, made-in-Canada cannabis crop that will have virtually none of the mind-altering chemical of marijuana but can be grown for hemp fibre, oil and food.

The overall theme of this work is to modify plants to make them more useful as crops and chemical factories, Facchini said. Alberta is quickly becoming a leader in this area, especially in the area of biofuels. The immense potential of plants as sources of high-value bioproducts for the agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors also needs attention.

The Biosecure Underground Growth Chamber is in a mine owned by Hudson Bay Smelting & Mining Co. Ltd. Facchini says it is a superb venue for his research. Its not what you would picture an old mine shaft to be. Its clean and well-lit, its kept at a constant temperature and its one of the most secure places in the country, he says. It gives a whole new meaning to mining our data.


'/>"/>

Contact: Grady Semmens
gsemmens@ucalgary.ca
403-220-7722
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Canada approves marijuana-based pain spray
2. Scientists discover the bodys marijuana-like compounds are crucial for stress-induced pain relief
3. Good news for the medical marijuana movement: pot proliferates brain cells and boosts mood
4. Machinery of the marijuana munchies
5. Marijuana-like compounds suppress the immune response
6. New DNA fingerprinting technique separates hemp from marijuana
7. Long-term marijuana smoking leads to respiratory complaints
8. Enhancing activity of marijuana-like chemicals in brain helps treat
9. New study examines brains own marijuana
10. Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
11. Quantum Dots Research Leads to New Knowledge about Protein Binding in Plants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2017)...  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ), an innovative ... verification solutions, announced today they will participate as a ... thru May 17, 2017, in Washington D.C.,s ... Identity impacts the lives of billions ... evolving digital world, defining identity is critical to nearly ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... 2017 Janice Kephart , former ... Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) , today issues the ... Trump,s March 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting ... can be instilled with greater confidence, enabling the ... refugee applications are suspended by until at least ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... , April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. ... company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on Form ... Exchange Commission. ... Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section of the ... on the SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . 2016 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests ... the lives of over 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in larger ... startup Treepex - based in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... For the second time in ... STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to Washington, D.C. Tuesday, ... , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of STEM education in America ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... of 13 prestigious awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding ... a scheduled symposium during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 09, ... ... published on October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s ... the gold standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using ...
Breaking Biology Technology: